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Office of Strategic Influence

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(13 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • First of all, I would like to recommend the limited edition 2 cd version of this release over the normal CD because the listener is no doubt missing on how deep the thematic scope of this project truly is. The bonus material features three tracks which sound better than most of the first disc including an oustanding Floyd cover that is to die for. The bonus CD ROM video done by Kevin Moore of “Horseshoes & B-52’s” is an quite a trip into the visual aspects of this project. I could envision a DVD release compiled only of video material from the album sometime in the near future or perhaps using this material backing video if a tour were to ever take place.Now about the first disc, I was initially a bit skeptical about whether this one could pull this one off sucessfully. Judging by the sound of the demo “The Thing That Never Was” Jim Matheos was absolutely correct in bringing Kevin Moore to add the much needed production boost that had been missing at first. Otherwise this disc probably would’ve sounded like another prog-fueled instrumental wankfest. Moore went ahead and used all the programming expertise from his post-Dream Theater project Chroma Key to create an album of unique prog soundscapes. Chapman stickmaster Sean Malone’s contributions cannot be ignored either. The mellower tracks particularly “Hello, Hellicopter,” “Head”, and “Memory Daydreams Lapses” are what truly standout. Melding modern electronic programming flourishes reminiscent of Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) and more traditional progressive sound structures, the result is one of 2003’s more adventurous releases thus far.

    Posted on January 27, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • OSI is a “super-group” project consisting of Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) on guitar, Kevin Moore (Chroma Key, ex-Dream Theater) on vocals and keyboard, and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) on drums. It also features Sean Malone (Gordian Knot) on bass and Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree) as a guest vocalist on one song. Being a big fan of Chroma Key, Fates Warning, and Dream Theater, I had very high expectations for this CD ever since I first heard about it several months ago. Now that I finally have the CD in hand, I am very impressed. I would describe the music as a blend of Chroma Key and Fates Warning (not surprising since Matheos and Moore co-wrote most of the songs). The tracks range in style from very heavy (lots of “balls and chunk” as Portnoy would say) to very subdued. All of the tracks are marked with Kevin Moore’s signature production style (i.e., multi-layered soundscapes with lots of voice samples and electronic sounds — fans of Chroma Key will know exactly what I’m talking about). The result is something that has many elements of prog-metal, but which is very different from a typical prog-metal album. I am extremely pleased with this end result, however someone buying this disc expecting to hear a clone of Dream Theater or Fates Warning is likely to be disappointed. Another caution that I would like to mention is that Kevin Moore’s voice might not appeal to everyone. I have no complaints about it — in fact I think it fits the music very well — but he does not really have a “lead singer” voice.If you do decide to buy this album, I would recommend paying a little extra to get the limited edition, which includes a second CD with three bonus tracks. The first two tracks on this bonus CD are cool cover versions of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” (performed by Moore and Portnoy) and Neil Young’s “New Mama” (performed by Moore). The third track is a 17-minute instrumental demo by Matheos and Portnoy (“The Thing That Never Was”), parts of which ended up forming the basis for five of the ten OSI songs. In summary, I think that anyone who is a fan of both Fates Warning and Chroma Key will love this disc. Fans of Fates Warning and/or Dream Theater who are NOT familiar with Kevin Moore’s Chroma Key albums may like this disc, but they should definitely take into account the cautions that I mentioned above.

    Posted on January 27, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Being a huge fan of Dream Theater and Transatlantic, I thought I’d try out this new ’side-project’ from Mike Portnoy. Being that this band is headed by Kevin Moore (ex-Dream Theater, ChromaKey) I knew it would have some type of ambient sounds in the mix, but i was really surprised by this album!! From the very beginning I just heard a lot of ambient ‘techno’ noise, but then once it really began, the true masterpiece unleashed itself. This album is a totally different direction for Mike Portnoy, and I like it. It’s not the total instumental chops of LTE, or the old-school prog of Transatlantic. It’s ambience, and prog-metal blended together in a wonderful way. This album contains fantastic artistry, great guitar, and amazing drums(of course!). I see this album as a sort Tool-like piece (which is great, because Tool is one of my favorite bands!). If you are a fan of Tool, Dream Theater, or especially Chromakey this album should be an essential. New prog masterpiece! Great job Mike, Jim, and Kevin!

    Posted on January 27, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • OSI is a side project of Dream Theater’s long time drummer, Mike Portny and former DT Keyboardist (now with Chroma Key) Kevin Moore. The music they perform is a wonderful confluence of murky atmospheric progressive rock and driving boisterous progressive heavy metal. Sounds scary doesn’t it? Well don’t worry, it’s wonderful. In addition to Portny and Moore, we have Fates Warning Guitarist, Jim Matheos, whose idea it was for this production, Bassist, Sean Malone (Gordian Knot, Chroma Key) and guest singer Porcupine Tree’s Steve Wilson on track seven – “Shutdown”. Wilson also wrote the lyrics for the unique “Shutdown”, which comprises both styles in the same song All outer vocals were competently handled by Moore. Not surprisingly, three of the ten songs on disc 1 are instrumentals and vocals are somewhat sparse in the others (except “Shutdown”).

    Highlight Songs

    “The New Math” (instrumental) For me “The New Math” has a strong Dream Theater flavor. Not surprising considering the roots of the drummer and keyboard player. This is Heavy Progressive Metal plain and simple. This song has voice samples of Dan Rather throughout and doesn’t miss a beat as it segues into “OSI”, the same song, same melody, the same beat but with light vocals added. In fact Moore’s vocals are so mellow and lacking emotion that they remind me of Steve Miller.

    “Head” starts out fairly mild, though with heavy guitar accents but it also has an industrial essence and does in fact sound like a Tool or Deadsoul Tribe song throughout. It goes back and forth then ends as it starts.

    “Shutdown” This ten plus minute number is the song that Steve Wilson guests on. It resembles “Head” somewhat with the first half is strongly atmospheric and mellow with a couple heavy guitar interludes. Wilson’s vocals are certainly more emotive than Moores and Moores backs the vocals with melancholy synth harmonies. The second half is like a different song with heavy Tool sounding guitars and bass, drums too in a semi Eastern refrain!


    If you don’t buy the Limited Edition version of this you don’t get the twenty eight minute killer bonus disc with three great Progressive songs plus a twenty minute behind the scenes video documentary. Usually I don’t feel bonus tracks or bonus CDs are worth while but this one is a Grande exception. You relly should look into the limited edition version before you buy.

    Yes there are a couple so so tracks but the preponderance of the music is exciting and so fresh that one overlooks an itsy bit of mediocrity. If You are a Progressive rock fanatic or a progressive metal aficionado, this is an essential album. It’s a lttle of what your used to but it’s also way different. I haven’t dealt with the lyrics much because in a way they are insignificant to the music. They tend to deal with corruption and incompetence in government.

    Posted on January 27, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • If you’re reading this page, chances are you know the names already: Kevin Moore, Mike Portnoy, Jim Matheos. If you’re familiar with their regular bands, you’ll even spot some of the same elements through this disc – some of Chroma Key’s loopy light-techno touches, a little (very little) of Dream Theater’s crunch, plenty of the gloomy atmospherics of Fates Warning. OSI is a web of subtle electronics, monstrous riffs and everything in between. Bassist Sean Malone is basically a session hand rather than a collaborative partner, but I have to mention him as well. His low-end work is a study in masterful understatement, and any fan of intelligent hard rock will be well-served by his Gordian Knot project (which I think eclipses OSI and all the bands mentioned above). But this isn’t the place to talk about that. The other name on the cast list is Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson, who co-writes and sings “shutDOWN.” That track is possibly the main standout on a disc with virtually no weak points (even though it could almost belong on a recent PT album just as easily as here). They take several minutes building an enveloping atmosphere of doom before kicking into a fantastic mid-tempo thrash. It’s a disturbingly powerful ten minutes that’ll make you want to either sink into a bleak coma or punch through some windows.Other highlights? The title song is a beautiful three-minute slice of hard rock with Moore providing some of the most excellent vocal harmonies I’ve heard lately outside of, well, Porcupine Tree. “Head” is evil electro-funk that’ll warp your mind from the inside out. “Memory Daydreams Lapses” always makes me imagine wandering through the corridors of some huge cybernetic brain with a vague feeling of fear. I’ve seen Pink Floyd mentioned in a couple reviews, and to be fair there’s a little similarity to be heard here. “Dirt From a Holy Place” has some of that same creepy ambience and searing guitar, and part of “Standby (Looks Like Rain)” seems to be flat-out copied from the slow middle section of PF’s “Dogs.” I guess OSI has a similar taste for moody atmospherics, but comparing them to Floyd is like comparing Phish to the Grateful Dead (which, if that’s unclear, just means that it’s wildly inaccurate and grossly unfair to both bands).Kevin and Jim handle the production, which means that the recording & engineering throughout are simply superb. You can hear Mike’s cymbals crackle with electricity when the occasional effects are added, you can hear Jim’s guitar shred from one side of your head to the other, you can hear Kevin’s voice range between softly filtered and metallized like an android’s. I only wish that “The New Math” didn’t date itself with its news samples, but that’s only three minutes out of almost 45. It’s a listening experience vivid enough to induce visions and strongly-written enough to rank with the best albums of the year (so far, and probably overall). Get in on this, or be left behind when the aliens come.

    Posted on January 27, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now